Community Event in Wirksworth; doing more for Dementia

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Memory boxes, lock boxes, photograph albums, music sessions,fiddle muffs, bug hotels, fire service, library services and voluntary services all gathered this morning in the Memorial Hall at Wirksworth. The community event was organised by  the vibrant  Patient Participant Group at Hannage Brook Medical Centre and supported by local NHS providers, NIHR local research teams to name a few. Stalls showed a range of different information including the largest array of fiddle muffs and aprons I have ever seen. I went along to promote the study and managed to distribute 40 general leaflets and discuss with families and providers. It was a great morning.

Attendance was great with many people coming in to try out and consider the resources for their loved ones and also to have a chat. Resources included a magnificent collection of 16 memory boxes which can be borrowed by any local resident or organisation for free. This service is run by the members of the PPG and has a considered registration scheme so that borrowers can simply and in confidence borrow the boxes. This is in recognition of the need to maintain privacy as dementia is  mostly a private family matter in rural communities. The boxes included themes such as holidays, music, gardening, baking, dancing, travel, entertainment, DIY, nurturing, knit n stitch, sensory, toys, dogs and cats, wildlife to name a few. These were donated by local schools, businesses, NHS Trust, local  groups and individuals.

Additionally borrowers can also use a selection of large adult picture books which are printed on fine paper and included a wide range of topics, designed to help with making conversations and connecting with memories. These are a great addition to the boxes and could be easily shared with all ages within families as they are a brilliant way to engage in an enjoyable natter at home.

Other activities included the work of the Wildlife Trust who are seeking to extend their current acute hospital based interventions into the local rural communities. Activities included making bug hotels from bamboo, straw, twigs and plastic bottles. Their memory box included some very gruesome slimy plastic giant slugs which were liked especially by the children.

The fire service attended with their information about supporting people in a holistic manner to not only prevent fires but to promote general well-being in the home. This seemed to be a very pro-active approach to managing memory difficulties and safety in the home, whilst being sensitive to the wishes of individuals. Likewise the mobile library service promoted their range of services to carers of all ages which include signposting to other services alongside home delivery of books and media. Making Space also provided a stand to promote their wide ranging new services in the area.

The most heartening aspects of the community event were that the local people have united to bring about changes in the choices for local residents affected by dementia. The turnout and genuine interest in the vast range of resources are a credit to all the hard work over the past months by the community. Local GPs, businesses, organisations and individuals have all contributed in very tangible way to the development  of a robust army of “doers”. Rural communities tend to be full of doers. If this small town can do it then lets build on the capacity of other small rural communities by sharing ideas and getting on with it!

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